CTV wins 2010 and 2012 Olympic broadcast rights

Come 2010, CBC will no longer be known as "Canada's Olympic network."

The International Olympic Committee has awarded the broadcasting rights to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and 2012 Summer Games to an alliance between CTV Inc. and Rogers Communications.

CBC has held Olympic broadcast rights since 1996.

"We're very disappointed, no question," said Nancy Lee, head of CBC Sports. "We think we put in a great bid. We worked long on it.

"It was a good bid. We couldn't have worked harder on it and we were just clearly outbid on it."

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the winning bid was $153 million US, an increase of 110 per cent on the $73 million that CBC paid for the Canadian broadcasting rights for the 2006 and 2008 Games.

Led by Bell Globemedia, the CTV-Rogers consortium offered $90 million alone for the rights to the 2010 Games, up 221 per cent from the $28 million spent for 2006 Turin Games, and $63 million to cover the 2012 Summer Games.

"This is the first time that the amount for the Games exceeds the Summer Games," IOC Finance Commission chairman Richard Carrion told an IOC news conference.

"We certainly believe that 2010 will be the biggest sport events in Canada this decade, may well be the biggest event in Canada this decade," added Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of Bell Globemedia.

"We really felt we needed to be part of it and right at the centre of it. We also think there's a huge amount of interest, from viewers and advertisers for 2010."

The proposal is a huge outlay compared to the $4.5 million that CTV paid for the 1988 Calgary Games.

The first Olympic Games on home soil in 22 years is expected to be a ratings bonanza, which is why both broadcasters opened their wallets and assembled resources to put together the best bid possible.

The decision came after each network made a two-hour presentation to the IOC and then handed over the sealed bid.

According to sources at the CBC, there was a wide disparity in the amount of money each camp was willing to offer.

"CBC/Radio-Canada has an obligation to taxpayers to be fiscally responsible, and this requirement firmly shaped the financial part of our bid," CBC president and CEO Robert Rabinovitch said in a statement to employees Monday afternoon.

"In preparing our bid to the IOC, we knew, and we know still, that competing to win the rights to broadcast the Olympic Games at any cost is simply not a reasonable proposition for us."

CBC still has two more Games left (2006 and 2008) in a five-Olympic package.

London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris are all vying to host the 2012 Games. The IOC will name the 2012 host city July 6 in Singapore.

CTV put together an impressive package by aligning itself with Rogers Communications.

CTV's subsidiaries include TSN, the French-language RDS and the Outdoor Life Network. Rogers holdings include Sportsnet and the Omni channels, 43 radio stations and magazines.

In Quebec, TQS will be the main carrier with RDS also helping out in coverage.

CBC emphasized accessibility in its proposal, saying approximately 99 per cent of Canadians both English and French would be able to watch the Games.

In addition to the main network, the CBC offered CBC Newsworld, its French service, the digital channel CBC Country Canada and its radio network in its proposal.

CBC also partnered up with the sports cable station The Score.

Both proposals included online coverage.

CTV has broadcast the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, the '92 Summer Games in Barcelona and the '94 Winter Games in Lillehammer.

CTV is owned by BCE Inc., which also owns Bell Canada. Bell paid $200 million Cdn for the telecommunication rights for the 2010 Games.

with files from CP Online